Today’s Wall Street Journal has a fascinating story on / interview with George Martin, the man who produced all of the Beatles’ music except the Let It Be album. A BBC documentary titled Produced by George Martin is being released today on DVD.
According to the article, Martin, a self-taught pianist who could play by ear, was responsible for many of the catchy hooks that opened Beatles’ songs. He also introduced strings to their music, first with a Baroque quartet on “Yesterday” and later with the driving rhythm heard in “Eleanor Rigby” – a new kind of sound inspired by the fierce, urgent strings of Bernard Hermann’s famous Psycho score (warning: the Psycho audio/video link contains black and white stills from the film – with one rather cheesy 1960 horror movie effect, but still . . .)
One heartbreaking piece of information in the Wall Street Journal article: after years of 14-hour days in the studio, Martin is now unable to hear music and must read lips and use hearing aids to carry on a conversation. It reminds me of Beethoven, who was completely deaf by the time he composed and conducted his Ninth Symphony – a portion of which, in one of those beautiful, circular twists of fate, puts in an appearance near the end of the Beatles’ second movie, Help!